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Cafe Royal, Edinburgh

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user reviews of Cafe Royal, Edinburgh

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Still probably my favourite city centre bar. I just wish they would do something about the way the keep their ales. Just about any ale I try runs flat by the time the ale gets to the halfway mark in the glass. That's my only real gripe with this place

The food is generally very good. Beware, though, if you arrive after the lunching hours: from around 2:30pm onward till well after 3:00pm is the famous Cafe Royal Witching Hour, so called because as all the luncheon diners disappear, so do most of the staff! Trying to get served during that time can be frustrating and the CR has lost out on plenty of my money when I've just gotten fed up and legged it over to the Abbostford or elsewhere.
Coldie_Redux - 31 Oct 2015 12:06
Back in the centre of Edinburgh where I had left off the previous evening, I approached the Café Royal and it felt like I was about to enter the Ritz! The public bar is fairly down-to-earth though. It is popular with tourists, mostly for the food and the fantastic interior. Prices were reasonable too. Note that some of the ales will be different on the other side of the bar. I believe there was 7 handpulls in all. Ales on offer Monday lunchtime were Edinburgh Brew Co EPA, Kelburn Dark Moor, Misty Law & Cart Blanche & Inveralmond Inkie Pinkie. Worth a visit for the interior alone.
blue_scrumpy - 30 Jul 2015 21:26
Visited August 2014. Despite being very busy, quick service. Amazing interior, 7 ales on, all well kept, and friendly staff. Lots of tourists trying the ales, guided by a knowledgeable barman. Would def go back if we are in Edinburgh again.
Shuv16 - 26 Apr 2015 12:57
I know it has splendid tiles; I know it is in central Edinburgh; I know the food is good; I know the beer is generally well kept.

£4.00 a pint? You are having a laugh! 40-50p dearer than any other pub around. Sad.
LickeyEndBooze - 1 Mar 2015 11:57
An amazing interior, with Doulton tiled murals, stained-glass windows, etched mirrors and beautiful ceiling. The beers were pretty good with a dark Kelburn beer being a favourite.
littledrummerboy - 29 Sep 2014 22:17
It's opulence and palatial décor makes this more than just a regular pub, but inside the warmth and hospitality make it homely and quite a spectacular place to get a drink. There is so many decorative features and fine craftsmanship throughout that everywhere you look you will marvel at something or other. The bar curves right around the space, a feature I understand not uncommon in Victorian Scottish pubs (see also the Horseshoe in Glasgow). The beer selection was good and regular drinkers friendly. A must visit Edinburgh pub.
Richard_ReadingFC - 24 Sep 2014 12:13
So, 3 years since my last review and I've noticed a change. I dunno what they're doing with their ales for halfway through a pint it begins to look like dishwater. There's still the eternal Cafe Royal Witching Hour, a period between 2:15 and 3:30 where the staff seem to disappear.

Food's still good but the prices are now shocking, especially when you're paying for ale that isn't being kept well. And the ceiling water damage from 2012 STILL hasn't been repaired and I think that shows us where the Pubco's priority lies! Shame the trust that owns this can't get them involved to get the repairs carried out.

Gone down in my books a bit.
Coldie_Redux - 28 May 2014 19:26
Still the best - Winter Warmer was superb. I never tire of popping in here - a must for any pub lover in Edinburgh.
Mappiman - 2 Dec 2013 15:38
Busy city centre bar. Found it okay as opposed to good. Ale was drinkable but nothing special.
anonymous - 18 Apr 2013 20:26
Just behind The Guildford Arms. Popped in here on the off chance on Saturday and had to stand for while before we got some chairs tucked away in the corner. This minor discomfort was more than made up by the good pint of Stewarts 80/-.
Give it a visit as just may be surprised.
paulbeckett - 11 Apr 2013 18:41
Next to Guilford Arms and felt similar going in both. Great décor. Good Scottish ale. Not many tables to sit at - more stools at the wall bars. Though did arrive on Saturday afternoon.
busker999 - 8 Apr 2013 20:32
One of the great pub interiors of the country - up there with the Philarmonic in Liverpool and the Barton's Arms in Birmingham. The beer's better than both and the food definitely is. The only quibble I have is, as someone said earlier, the amount of customers allowed to remain seated at the bar. It's rude and off-putting.
djw - 15 Feb 2013 00:48
As stated elsewhere - stunning interior - also good range/quality of ales - always busy weekends... rarely get a seat, but good place nevertheless.
kernott1 - 24 Oct 2012 20:24
I've never seen a pub interior quite like this. Fabulous Victorian opulence, with island bar, mirrors, ornate ceiling and fantastic tiled murals on the walls, many of them celebrating famous engineers and scientists. One of Edinburghs must see pubs. Incredible living heritage.
tarkatherotter - 26 May 2012 18:02
What more can be said about this stunning interior!! Just go and see for yourself. p.s. the beer's not bad either.
mcroyal - 12 May 2012 17:37
WOW, what a lovely Victorian pub. The decoration in this camra entry pub is stunning.

There is a restaurant attached to the side with amazing stain glass windows, the wood paneling and stylish ceiling from the restaurant run through to the pub.

Framed tiles by Doulton on the wall of William Caxton, Benjamin Franklin & others that have been lovingly restored and really make this place attractive.

Large oval bar in the centre of the pub with half a dozen staff behind it.

4 different ales on draught, of which 3 were local breweries, the 2 I had were of a very high standard.

One slight criticism would be the allowance of people / couples to sit at the bar, this of course restricts the amount of space available to other punters waiting for a pint. A minor criticism but still not what I like in a pub.

Regardless of this, the Cafe Royal is a very attractive city centre pub that has to be visited to be appreciated.

lezford - 19 Apr 2012 13:26
Very good pub. Good servivce, decent food and choice of dark beers (Black & Tan and Black Gold).
PhilR - 12 Mar 2012 18:12
Called in yesterday and I can't add much to TWG's appraisal. This is a place I always visit when in Edinburgh, albeit only a couple of times a year, and it never disappoints. I likewise will make a point of eating here one day, when I have a bit more time on my hands. One of the best.
Stamfordian - 20 Jan 2012 16:12
I must say, the DryRiser is entirely correct in his synopsis of this smart, urbane yet not pretentious or unrealistically-priced pub-cum-restaurant. The Cafe Royal has a rich history which is worth noting from both the text by the entrance, and the splendidly-preserved tiled depictions of famous locals adorning many of the interior walls. The place exudes a confident quality throughout, and happily this expectation is matched by the service, beer and by observation, food standards. We were greeted heartily and all orders were processed pleasantly and efficiently. At home from the outset, you might say. There were 4 excellent cask ales offered, each very well-kept and not the most expensive in the city. Needless to say malts were well in evidence and are worth a sample. Alas, we weren't in need of a feed. Next time I'll make space, because the menu looked very appealing. Fine steak pies, fish and chips, oysters, and a host of other temptations kept appearing at tables nearby. Rarely do I feel I can so vehemently recommend food without having eaten myself! The pub was a pub first though, albeit an upmarket, stylish meeting place for civilised folk; spit 'n' sawdust this ain't. A definite must if you're new to Edinburgh - and if you're not.
TWG - 17 Aug 2011 22:56
I had about fifty drinks over a period of four days in Edinburgh and the best quality ales were here. Kelburn Cart Noir was perfect. Service is excellent if you are having food, tea, or just beer. Great place and could teach the place next door a thing or two about beer quality control and service. 10/10
dry_riser_inlet - 10 Aug 2011 20:02
I've lost count of the times I have been here over the years, but tonight something unique happened. I managed to get a booth. One day all pubs will be like this. Somewhere that is nicer than your home but where you feel welcome. A great experience.
Mappiman - 2 Aug 2011 00:15
Edinburgh's hidden gem! Certainly my favourite bar. The bar menu is excellent - try the seafood dinner - and if you fancy something a bit more private, try the Oyster Bar restaurant.
Well kept lagers and ales, though too many Kelburn presence but then that, I guess, is because this fine bar is tied to the rogues at Punch! Good wine list and whisky gantry.
Coldie_Redux - 26 Jul 2011 05:59
Stunning interior, with comfy booths around the centrally located bar, buzzing when I visited it at about 2100 last night, good selection of real ales on offer too, well worth tumbling out of the Guildford arms for.
Hodge1 - 23 Mar 2011 17:57
More like a classy bar than a real ale boozer, but still having enough offer to real ale enthusiast. They have a decent selection of ales including Sciehallion, Kelham Island and Deuchars IPA beers. The interior is quite stunning, large windows, mosaic decration, leather banquets, chrome & brass etc. It can get really busy, but if you can secure a seat (at the bar is the best position, you are in for a really nice treat.
Perry_Mason - 30 Nov 2010 18:47
Like the Canny Mans this is a pub that everyone has to visit. The customers change throughout the day and I wish I had the time to watch them all. Last time I was in during the fest we had a superb pint (Harvieston Game Burd). Have been known to nip next door at times to get served.
Cotnap - 21 Sep 2010 21:42
Not cheap and it can get very busy, especially at weekends. But there is nothing wrong at all with starting your Saturday with a pint of thick, rich stout (Cairngorm I think) and a plate of spankingly fresh oysters. The staff were certainly friendly on my visit last weekend and the interior is one of the pub highlights of Edinburgh.
cheesyal - 26 Aug 2010 00:52
Grand pub. We arrived at 11am so were largely unbothered by 'suits'. Excellent, slightly old-fashioned (in a good way) service, and a decent ale. Sort of pub you can bring your missus to!
dry_riser_inlet - 23 Aug 2010 10:32
Beautiful interior and always enjoyable for the varied and mainly local clientele as well as the beer. Yesterday evening it was fairly quiet and the Deuchar's was on good form. Handy for a penultimate pint before the train.
Stamfordian - 23 Jun 2010 10:17
Beautiful pub physically and if youre new to the city you must have a look but ive found the service to be slow and its always way too busy and overstuffed with suits from the nearby banks for my taste .

Think they have tried to improve the quality of the beer of late but the selection isnt that inspiring and id much rather hit the guildford next door.
beersteer - 15 Apr 2010 16:27
very pretentious very expensive very slow servivce and the drabist cold real ale ale of our w/end
loiner8 - 9 Mar 2010 16:48
As others say another one to visit for the interior as well as the beer. Busy pub , food looked good, and the ale in good condition.
Leicesterbeer - 11 Jan 2010 17:34
This is another GBG pub that I had not visited before, and what a suprise when I got inside. In fact I spent as much time wandering round to see the interior as drinking my ale. It is beautiful inside. We enjoyed the Inveralmond Lia Fail here. Other beers were Caledonian Deuchers and 2 from Kelburn brewery. One to visit again.
gillhalfpint - 16 Aug 2009 18:29
Clearly one of the best interiors around and the beer is normally good. Due to it's fame and popularity it can seem a bit like a tourist attraction at times.
Millay - 24 May 2009 22:12
Just an update.

Getting better, although service can be slow. Beers kept ok. Off there tonight, in fact!
Coldie_Redux - 12 Dec 2008 12:37
One of the most beautiful interiors in Britain, with first-rate service and beer quality to boot! I have been here half a dozen times over the past couple of years and have never been less than impressed. One would hardly believe it was a [De]Spirit Group managed house.
curioushistory - 10 Nov 2008 19:24
Amazing building, ales tasted were of good quality, shame the refurbished toilets has lost it's blue and white porcelein sinks, they were a unique talking point for the pub!
barcelona26051999 - 28 Oct 2008 05:10
The best pint of Deuchars IPA I've ever enjoyed was in this pub on Friday 10 October. I even learned how to pronounce 'Dookars' - way to go for a Tyke !
trikemaniac - 17 Oct 2008 19:25
Beautiful Edinburgh pub, with the tiled pictures inside and brass fittings a particular delight. Nice pints of Red Smiddy and Marching Orders and good haggis, tatties and neeps. Will be back on my return to the festival in 2009.
JonW999 - 18 Aug 2008 23:06
Having dined at the Cafe Royal on every visit to Edinburgh I was expecting good food and warm service. However, after my visit today, I can confirm that I have never in my life received such disgusting service in any restaurant/pub I have visited. Our main courses took an hour to arrive and after asking what appeared to be the manager where our food was, we were told that she had already cleared our plates away. Informing her this was the starter, we asked to have our food soon or have our money back. We were then told that it was our fault it was delayed as we had 'moved tables'. Having been sat in the same spot without as little as a bathroom break, we were understandably puzzled by this. After complaining in a reasonable manner we were told we couldn't have our money back, only the money from the main courses that weren't delivered - no apology was offered. We were then asked to leave the restaurant, hungry and disappointed. Don't go here unless you're looking for frankly disgraceful service and mediocre food.
LABV - 18 Aug 2008 14:19
I visited the bar in May this year after an absence of many years and was knocked out by the quality of the beer, but above all, the staff on duty. A young lass from Invergordon was in charge and if she wasn't pulling pints or taking orders for food, she was out clearing tables or helping to serve food up. It was only a small team but they worked perfectly together to deal with a very brisk lunchtime trade. Well done!
JBGatelad - 9 Aug 2008 11:56
Good to here the toilet debacle is fixed! Saves wading through sewage spilling from the gents as I did a year ago. Now if they can sort the bar staff out so they aren't so bloomin slow!

Food is generally ok, ale is passable, service in the past off putting.
Boongie - 17 May 2008 19:54
The Cafe Royal has just reopened after a subtle refurbishment, all the best bits are the same but the big news is the toilets are now a work of art. Chatting to the manager she told me they had to spend �50k to sort them out including diverting a sewer pipe!

Otherwise the Royal is as good as ever, I enjoyed an excellent well kept IPA and she who must be obeyed and me shared a very well prepared, fresh club sandwhich. This old Edinburgh institution is now better than ever and remains a pub everyone should visit at least once.
The_Man_From_Soil - 2 May 2008 08:17
Just got back from The Cafe Royal where i've enjoyed the best pint of Deuchars IPA.

Chattng to the bar staff they proudly told me that they had won the PLATINUM Beautiful beer award and it's the first in Scotland to get this.

The environment is perfect with loads of history, and the Steak Pie was perfect.

WHAT A GREAT BAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
caskdrinker - 13 Feb 2008 18:25
I visited on a quiet Monday early evening. The beer was good and I found the service friendly. They have just restarted using dimple mug style glasses (if you want one) which makes a nice change. The decor and bar layout lived up to expectations. However, the gents toilets were disgustingly smelly. You could smell a strong odour of dried urine in the corridor as you approached them and inside it was eye-watering. I found I couldn't enjoy my beer from then on because of the stench still lingering in my nostrils. Not bothering to clean the toilets is quite unacceptable and, for this reason, I can't recommend this pub unless you are just popping in for a quick one.
Padger - 9 Feb 2008 16:01
Update from me.

The CR is slowly improving. The food is great and the beers are being better kept. Still a problem getting served, though, even when the bar is not that busy. Annoys me why the don't light the fire during these winter months, unless there's some local regulation against it.
Coldie - 11 Jan 2008 13:25
Very good food, and decently-kept beer. Worth it for the decor, and welcoming without being over-familiar.
meurglys_iv - 16 Nov 2007 00:40
I've been using this pub off and on for over 30 years. The comments about the surroundings are spot on.....and I can see where the views on staff are coming from.
On the beer front, I can't remember ever having a bad pint. On the food front.....whats wrong with just a pie!!
LickeyEndBooze - 12 Oct 2007 10:01
The big feature here is the collection of magnificent, enormous 19th century framed pictures constructed with tiles, extending into the superb dining room that has a lovely marble-topped counter. A grand wood panelled screen inlaid with mirrors separates the dining area. The ceiling is highly decorative with lots of gilding and the wall has an impressive gold-embossed freeze. Beers are served from a huge island bar with an attractive central gantry and are from Caledonian, Courage and a guest. It certainly lives up to its royal title.
Alerover - 1 Jul 2007 15:51
Always worth a visit but your probably better going in when its fairly quiet. Unfortunately the staff are not interested and you can wait a long long time to get served.
A stunning interior though and a nice way to spend half an hour or so with a pint.
micmac - 30 Oct 2006 10:30
Been visting this bar for years, latterly as a stop-off on way home from mid-week libation with mates. It's on the skite, I'm afraid. Some of the barstaff (esp. male barmanager)do NOT look happy in their work. Some stare elsewhere whilst serving you and a couple of them have the insulting, annoying habit of dropping your change into your hand from a height!

But I digress. Still a wonderful bar, and everytime I go in I still gaze at the tile murals on the wall. The beers, I fear, are not being kept well, and neither are the pipes for the RFU stuff!
Coldie - 10 Oct 2006 15:03
The selection of ales is not comparable to Guildford Arms around the corner, but a stunning interior.
Finn - 28 Oct 2005 18:43
A great Edinburgh tradition. A wee bit lived in but very much part of the faded oppulance. Main bar downstairs is truly beautiful. Upstairs is very different and better for a session, also comes into its own during the festival.
paultricky - 4 Oct 2005 13:33
not amazing but pleasant enough. it couldn't be your local and it's a bit empty of atmosphere. i would take my girlfriend there for the oysters once in a while which was always nice. i would say it's certainly worth a visit for those going along princes street or getting a train or something. as the rest along princes street / rose street are so bad. but not the best place in eburgh by a long shot.
jugularvein69 - 24 Aug 2005 15:41
A tourist attraction which promises more than it delivers. Still, it's well worth a visit every now and again.
BinBagBob - 26 Feb 2005 12:43
Fabulous setting, interesting clientele but why is it impossible to get a decent pint of beer anywhere in Scotland where everything seems to taste like Irn Bru?
Popper - 21 Oct 2004 21:12
Echo the feeling it should be part of the National Trust estate good resteraunt allegadly.Bar an berr is just very average It could be so much better.
Betty Ford - 21 Oct 2004 12:24
Should be protected by law. Glass, wood, marble, nice beer, great oysters, comfy seating. The perfect pub.
Owen - 7 Oct 2004 15:57
I was there a week ago at a function in the upstairs lounge area, not the front pub. The place was stinking. The gents toilets upstairs were disgusting even though the pub was quiet. I hope you don't delete this message as it is the honest truth. I point this out as the situation needs dealt with.

For a place with such a reasonable reputation I was seriously disappointed.
Robert - 11 Aug 2004 18:31
Had a good proportion of well dressed/heeled when we called - there was some display around the castle so plenty of smart kilted types on view. Ales fine but overall seems more faded than the Guildford next door although the victorian tiled panels along one wall are worth the visit
lout_from_the_lane - 13 Jul 2004 17:03
Grand interior, great G&T, tasty, basic dishes and FAB oysters
Me - 15 Jun 2004 11:52
Just around the corner from the Guildford Arms and decorated in a similarly impressive fashion, worth a visit if you are in the area.
Millay - 27 Nov 2003 17:26
Amazing, splendid, fantastic. Don't need a barrell or a beard to feel at home here.
Billy Elliot - 15 Oct 2003 14:03
Liked the Haggis, Neeps and Tatties there
Mike - 26 Sep 2003 14:33
Smart, city pub.

Lots of lawyers from nearbu courts/offices.
Vindaloo - 16 Aug 2003 08:53

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